Historical society works to preserve Ford School

LAKE IN THE HILLS – Within the past year, volunteers have been working to save a former one-room schoolhouse built in 1886.

The Lake in the Hills Historical Society is collecting donations to move Ford School to its original location. So far, it has raised $8,000 for the project.

To move the former school to Ford School Park from the Old Stonegate Nursery is estimated to cost $15,000.

“We’re really lucky the original spot is available to us,” said Arden Spooner, the treasurer of the historical society.

The historical society is giving the village administration weekly updates on the project, which it hopes to accomplish before the summer.

Volunteers are lining up to help with the project when it gets under way, Spooner said.

One person has donated architectural services to put together the site plan. Sherwin Williams is donating paint for the project.

The village estimated the project to move the school to cost $32,000, which included removing trees along the route and hooking up sewer and water onto the property.

Organizers since have decided not connect running water and sewer to the planned location to save money. The site will have electricity. There is even a plan to build an outbuilding that would be a replica of an outhouse, Spooner said.

The planned site does need to have a foundation built.

Once the school is in place, the interior will be cleared out by volunteers and then restored to the original schoolhouse look. Workers plan to remove a side porch that was added in the past 20 years.

The historical society plans to move the school after it was contacted by the current property owners Suzanne Schuman and her daughter, Lynn Schuman. In 2003, the site became a landscaping and nursery business. Ford School was used as an office. After the business closed, the property became a liability as people regularly broke into structures at the former nursery.

The Schumans decided to tear down the site’s other buildings, including an old farmhouse and barn.

Lynn Schuman reached out to the historical society about the schoolhouse to say she’d be willing to donate it if the society could move it off the property.

This isn’t the first time the school has had to be moved.

In 1945, the school was nearly torn down, as land was being developed for people coming to the area after World War II.

Henry Stickelmaier bought the school for $250, and it was moved to where it sits today. The school was converted to house migrant workers, according to the historical society.

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